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Full text of "G. K. Chesterton"

10                            G.  K.   CHESTERTON
forsaken, of God. And now let the revolutionists choose a
creed from all the creeds and a god from all the gods of inevitable
recurrence and of unalterable power. They will not find
another god who has himself been in revolt. Nay, (the matter
grows too difficult for human speech) but let atheists themselves
choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever
uttered their isolation ; only one religion in which God seemed
for an instant to be an atheist.
During all these years books and articles were pouring
out from his pen with bewildering rapidity. In literary
biography he followed up his study of Browning with a
study of Dickens. He used his experience as an art-student
to add to these studies of G. F. Watts and Blake* He wrote
a criticism of the man with whom throughout his lifetime
he remained in unending friendly controversy, Bernard
Shaw. In all, Chesterton wrote eight literary biographies—
on G. F. Watts, Robert Browning, Dickens, Bernard Shaw,
William Blake, Cobbett, Robert Louis Stevenson, and
Chaucer. We may add St. Thomas Aquinas to that if we
wish to call that a literary biography. In addition, he was
continually throwing at the world his passing literary
judgements in works as various as his volume on the Victorian
Age in Literature for the Home University Library or his
articles which appeared in the central page of the Illustrated
London News every week for almost the last quarter of a
century of his life. As was only to be expected of a writer
so uncritically fertile, his literary judgements varied in merit.
He had no talent at all—as he himself was the first to confess
—for what is sometimes called pure literary criticism—for
arguments about form and manner. His whole interest was
in ideas. As a consequence, the least successful of his
biographies, as is generally agreed, are those on Watts and
Stevenson, where his subject threw down no clear dogmatic
challenge to the ideas of his age, Blake also was a failure
because Chesterton's weapon was reason and he could not
be at home with one who despised reason. On the other
hand, Browning, written when Chesterton was still a young